Monday, May 4, 2015

Review: Convergence Action Comics

I wasn't planning to review Convergence:Action Comics #1 here on the site but after reading it, I felt like it needed to be covered here.

First, why I didn't think I would cover it. For one, it seems like it is more a classic Power Girl story. While I am a big fan of Power Girl I feel she is a separate character from Supergirl. And since I don't want to muddy the waters about the focus of this site, I have shied away from covering all of Power Girl's stories here. Second, I have to admit I haven't read the Red Son mini-series and so I didn't know if I could adequately comment on the characterization of that side of the story.

But writer Justin Gray put together a great story which certainly honored the pre-Crisis Earth 2 super-family the way I keep hoping DC as a whole will view Earth 2. And Gray comments on what it must be like for Karen and Clark to be perpetually depowered after a life being super. In some ways it echoed the recent Romita story in Superman #40 but somehow in a more palatable way.

Art is done by old friend Claude St. Aubin of R.E.B.E.L.S. fame. St. Aubin brings a smooth clean style to the proceedings which feels both classic and contemporary.

We start out in the classic Earth-2 Metropolis where it has become common knowledge that Clark is Superman and that he and Lois are married. The two are walking through the park when they are stopped by a fan asking for an autograph. He holds out a photo which homages Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez classic cover of Action Comics #484. (We can argue if such a photo would exist as it would unmask Superman as Clark given Lois' post-ceremony living arrangement, but let's not be nit-picky.)

But this nameless character then states just why we all love Superman and Lois together. They are the greatest love story in history (or one of them). Women look up to Lois as a hard-working, independent woman who strove to bring truth and justice even if it endangered her.

With all the current hubbub over how shabbily Lois is being treated by DC these days, I wonder if this was Gray giving his meta-textual opinion.

Powerless under the dome for almost a year, Clark (called Kal by Lois in the one clunky character moment of the book) bemoans being someone he isn't. He was someone with power who could help. Now he doesn't have them.

It is interesting how he correct Lois when she asks if he is upset for being 'reduced' to being human. It isn't that he feels more human that is off-putting. It is being someone he isn't. So this isn't a 'superior' Superman who feels above humanity or disconnected from it. That isn't it.

One other thing is that despite the gray temples on Clark, these two look rather spry. I would put them in their 60s at this stage of the game. Lois looks like she hasn't aged since her salad days of youth.

Meanwhile, another of the surviving domes is the Red Son Moscow where Stalin, Comrade Superman, and Wonder Woman are discussing the state of the Soviet Union city. With Superman powerless to hold the citizens in check, there is an air of impending rebellion.

Luthor, here cast as a benevolent Westerner trapped in Moscow but bringing thoughts of democracy to the place. He agrees to work with Stalin and Superman to try to solve the riddle of the dome. But it is clear, he is on the opposite side of the political fence. He thinks people should be free of the shackles Stalin has placed on them.

It is clearly an uneasy alliance.

On Earth 2, we see that Karen is also having a hard time adjusting to her new life without powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal humans. She is still sassy and brash and opinionated and fierce like the original Power Girl was. But she has to do the mundane things we normal folks have to ... exercise, watch what she eats, floss, sleep, etc.

She is in a relationship with Andrew Vinson, another throwback to classic Power Girl continuity. I love this exchange between the two as they prepare for a dinner with Clark and Lois. Andrew asks if he can join Karen in the shower but she warns him about what cousin Kal might think.

This felt like the Power Girl I knew from this time era. Even her frustration at being powerless felt right.

But like Superman, she wishes she was Power Girl again.

We get a nice little homage to Power Girl's career starting with a great double page spread of her, alongside Infinity Inc., fighting the villain team Helix. Nice left hook to Penny Dreadful!

And here is a nice shot of her fighting the Ultra-Humanite.

And then a simple panel of her flying and smiling next to Superman. You need no dialogue to see how much they love each other and enjoy each other's company.

I miss that sort of relationship between the super-cousins on any world!

What is most interesting is this Luthor being played up as a hero and freedom fighter. He can't stand the oppressive nature of this Moscow. He has been researching the dome and tinkering on the side. I thought this reimagining of the invisible jet was humorous especially with the line about seeing the pilot.

The Red Son Superman warns this Luthor that his snarking with Stalin won't be tolerated too much longer.

The truth is this Luthor still seems to be a smug man. I can't completely think of him as a protagonist here.

The super-cousins do end up sharing that dinner. There Lois seems somewhat cross, complaining about talking about the dome and holing herself up in the bathroom.

I can only think of two story reasons why she would act this way. One, she actually kind of likes the 'calm' life of the dome without Superman flying off into dangerous battle. Two, she's pregnant. Neither sounds like this Lois. The former doesn't sound like the supportive partner. The latter seems impossible since in my mind this Lois is too old to be bearing a child (even if she looks the same age as Power Girl in this book).

But we know the dome is going to drop and it finally does.

It appears that The Red Diana is going to be the first to enter the fray.

This wasn't a perfect issue by any means. But the opening scene with the Lois love as well as the great characterization of Power Girl raised this Convergence mini for me. The great dialogue and crisp art was welcomed. And an old school Karen and Kal helped seal the deal. The only lasting concern is Lois' surliness to close the book.

I do wonder where this is going. I guess Luthor will play some part in the climax as some space was devoted to him. And I hope I get to see the super-cousins battling side by side one more time!

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

Yeah, this was pretty enjoyable, I got a real kick out of seeing Andrew after all this time. Young, brown-haired Lois made no sense, but there you go, I've accepted worse. I did like that we saw more of the other side than we've tended go in these books, it made me actually interested in the Moscow mob.

Anj said...

Its true about this making me interested in the Red Son book. Maybe I need to get the trade.

And you might be seeing some more Andrew right here on this site very soon!